Migliaccio: the delicious Italian dessert recipe for traditional semolina and ricotta cake

Total time: 2H
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
By Cookist

Migliaccio is a typical semolina and ricotta cake of Neapolitan cuisine and the Campania region, in Italy. With ancient origins linked to the peasant tradition, Neapolitan migliaccio is a classic recipe that is served during the Carnival period (Carnevale) that includes Mardi Gras. These festive days anticipate Lent, a time when Catholics eat less meat and fatty foods by tradition.

The Italian word migliaccio means "pudding" in English as it is creamy and moist on the inside, but this is actually a cake with a texture halfway between an American cheesecake and a thick pudding.

Migliaccio is made with a few simple ingredients such as semolina and ricotta cheese. Together with the traditional bomboloni and chiacchiere, you can enjoy the Neapolitan migliaccio during the Carnival period.

Originally the basic ingredient was precisely millet (migilo in Italian), the cereal from which the flour with which to prepare this specialty was obtained, hence the name migliaccio. Millet was mixed with sugar and pigs blood, but today it is used semolina. It is produced by grinding durum wheat semolina, which is then gently cooked with milk and butter, then mixed with eggs, sugar and ricotta cheese.

The addition of citrus peel will give the migliaccio a very tasty, irresistible and subtle lemon fragrance, which will conquer children and adults alike.

The ingredients used for this dessert are the same that we can find in the filling of the curly sfogliatelle; for this reason, in some areas of Campania, the Neapolitan migliaccio is also known as sfogliata. The mediaeval peasant tradition also included the addition of pig's blood, a custom that has been lost over time.

So let’s find out how to make the Neapolitan migliaccio by following our recipe step by step.

Tips for making Neapolitan Semolina Ricotta Cake

You can also enrich the Neapolitan migliaccio with candied fruit or raisins.

You can flavor the mixture with cinnamon, vanilla, a drop of limoncello or orange liqueur, for a very aromatic final result.

For a gluten-free migliaccio, you can use polenta flour.

If you prefer a more decisive taste, you can replace the cow's milk ricotta cheese with the sheep’s milk ricotta cheese. Anyway, it is important that the ricotta cheese is very fresh and thick.

For a savory migliaccio recipe, leave out sugar.

How to store Neapolitan Migliaccio

The Neapolitan migliaccio should be stored at room temperature for one day, or covered with cling film in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezing is not recommended.

500 ml
500 ml
Ricotta cheese
300 g
250 g
200 g
40 g
Orange zest
Lemon zest
orange blossom aroma
Vanillin flavouring
1 sachet (about 16 g)

How to make Migliaccio

In a saucepan, heat the milk and water.

Add the lemon and orange zest, without reaching the boiling point.

Remove the citrus peel.

Then add the butter and mix.

Stir until the butter is melted.

Sprinkle the semolina.

Mix with a hand whisk until the mixture thickens.

Pour everything into a baking dish and let it cool.

Break the eggs into a bowl and add the sugar.

Whip with electric whisk until the mixture is swollen and foamy.

Add the sifted ricotta cheese, the vanillin flavouring  and the orange blossom aroma, and continue to mix with the whisk, mixing the ingredients until you have a homogeneous mixture.

Add the semolina to the egg mixture and mix everything.

Check the consistency, which should be smooth and creamy.

Mix well.

Grease a 26 centimetres diameter pan and line it with a sheet of parchment paper. Pour the mixture into the pan.

Level the surface with a spatula. Bake in a preheated oven at 200° C (392° F) for 1 hour.

When the surface is well colored, take the Neapolitan migliaccio out of the oven and let it cool for at least a couple of hours.

Decorate with powdered sugar.

Serve and enjoy!

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